What’s Going On?
We just returned from a small vacation in Puerto Rico during the same week the 2019 peaceful manifestation (July 18-24) was going on and where the Puerto Rican community demanded that the Governor resign. Our first instinct was to stay away from the crowds manifesting and places that they were gathering at. It is human nature for us to think that manifestations would become violent so staying away from these areas was wise. However, what we saw was entirely different from what our minds imagined. Protestors were calm, unified, and determined to win their country back from the corrupt government. The Puerto Rican community had enough of the bullying, senseless, degrading government which, for years, have driven the island to the chaos and disarray it now stands. And what we’d seen is proof that our fellow Puerto Rican’s did the right thing.
Not What We Expected
Arriving at the airport, you would not think that the island still showed vivid signs of its deteriorating economy and remnants from hurricane Maria in 2017. The airport is well maintained and updated with modern features. It wasn’t until we reached the urban vicinity of Rio Piedras and visited other cities that we realized the magnitude of deterioration the island was in. Potholes everywhere making it difficult to navigate the streets at the posted speed limits. Abandoned structures, businesses, and houses lined in almost every city we visited. Street signs were torn off by the hurricane winds. Streetlamps leaning towards one side making no sense to what they were lighting and some still dangling from their posts. Grass growing through the cement and asphalt crevices of the streets. Driving through the Cordillera Central it was evident the number of houses with blue tarps and many temporary fixes among the most traveled roads. Visiting other cities in Puerto Rico we found many closed and abandoned schools as well. And we asked ourselves, how is there enough money to pay the governor and his cabinet their outrageous salaries but not enough to fix these things? That is when we realized our fellow Puerto Rican’s were in their right to protest. We were glad they did and provided our support as much as possible.
Angry Residents Remain Cheerful and Unified Regardless
Visiting Old San Juan after the evening protests also made us realize that the protestor’s intentions were not to vandalize and further destroy their country. Even though there was graffiti in almost every wall, there were also many people – young and older – cleaning the streets and painting over the graffiti. These people were not city employees, they were just regular people. No one was angry or annoyed by the fact that properties were vandalized with graffiti. On the contrary, they were cheerful and greeted everyone who walked by with a smile even though the visitors were basically getting in their way of painting and cleaning.
Puerto Rico Is Beautiful
And even with all the chaos and deteriorating scenery, there were other beautiful areas. Puerto Rico’s natural habitat is just breathtaking – the mountains, beaches, and ocean views – all so admirable and something no one can take away. We encountered a few growing, clean and modern cities as well such as Carolina, Guaynabo, Yauco and of course, San Juan. There might be more, but we didn’t have time to visit the entire island. We had not been to Puerto Rico since September 2009 – nearly 10 years and with the exception of a few cities, did not notice much growth. But beautiful it is and always will be because Puerto Rico is not only about streets and buildings, it’s about its natural surrounding and cheerful people who will always stand up to protect their island. Because of this and the love we have for our little island of 100 x 35 miles we are proud to call ourselves Puerto Ricans. QUE VIVA PUERTO RICO!
Have you visited Puerto Rico? Care to share your experience? If so, use the comment section below.
- Places to visit in Puerto Rico
- Mom & Pop Shops to Visit in San Juan
- Restaurants and Kiosks around the Island
- Puerto Rico’s Unknown Beauties